A Short History of Oil Painting : The numerous masterpieces put on display in the well-known museums across the globe simply prove that oil is the medium that has caused a considerable impact on painting as a visual form of art. During the present times, oil painting on canvas continues to be a favorite of serious painters because it gives long-casting colors and allows a wide range of methods and approaches. The origin of oil paints can be traced back to the 13th century. However, this was further developed as a modern form of medium by Jan van Eyck, in the 15th century. Since artists had a problem of a too long drying time, this Belgian painter discovered a method that enabled painters to have a faster way to develop their compositions. He found a way to create a vibrant oil color palette by means of combining pigments with nut oils and linseed.

Later on, da Vinci, Messini and other artists enhanced the formula by making it the best medium to represent forms, figures and details by using a variety of colors, depths and shadows. It was during the Renaissance, also known as Golden Age of Painting, when artists developed their craft and established most of the techniques that enabled the oil medium to emerge. Oil painting became more refined due to the studies in perspective, human anatomy and proportion. In this era, artists aimed to come up with images that were realistic. They wanted to represent everything that was captured by the detailed eye of an artist and also catch the power of the human emotions and present them as well.

Giovanni Bellini’s “St. Francis in Ecstasy”, his 1480 work of art, captures the ability of oil to make an accurate and complex masterpiece using the soft morning light glow and natural landscape details. During the Baroque era, oil as a medium became useful when artists wanted to demonstrate the power of emotions by means of carefully manipulating shadows and light. In Rembrandt’s 1642 work of art entitled “Night Watch”, the use of oil shows the concerns of the night watch by means of a dark, but detailed background, plus the crisp brightness brought about by the golden garments. During the middle part of the 19th century, painters discovered new approaches and built new movements, also including oil as a medium. Monet used oil in the 1872 painting entitled “Impression, Sunrise”, which was named after the Impressionist movement. This suggests the view of a harbor, sun and silhouette reflected on water. Artists like Picasso, Matisse and Kandinsky used oil in Modernism and beyond to advance their experimental methods during the first part of the 20th century.

Oil lets an artist revise a work of art by easily taking it out from the canvas. Because of its rich history, great body of theories and its flexible nature, oil painting has greatly influenced visual art. All through the 20th century, oil paints have been improved further with the introduction of oil paint sticks. These were utilized by artists such as Anselm Kiefer and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Way back during the Renaissance period, masters used oil in creating masterpieces that keep on inspiring, intriguing and delighting. At present, artists use this important medium to convey their goals, visions and emotions.